Ida Graves distiller Brock Berglund, 34, of Alexandria, scratches his creative itch by distilling homemade spirits.
Brock Berglund, 34, of Alexandria, knew he wanted to do hands-on and creative work even as a kid.
Berglund grew up on a 10-acre hobby farm just south of Alexandria toward Forada, where he and his seven siblings had free range of the land. Berglund describes a horse pasture on the property often utilized by neighbors to store their horses. But during times when the pasture was empty, it was a tool for their creativity. It regularly transformed from horse pasture into a paintball course or the location of a homemade trebuchet used to launch pumpkins and rocks across the pastured grounds.
"It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of freedom," said Berglund. "It was a free-range style of living, as they would say these days - a pretty ruckus, pretty fun childhood.
He said his parents gave them a lot of trust and freedom and encouraged him and his siblings to be who they wanted to be, to explore, develop and figure themselves out.
Berglund describes his parents as exceptionally hardworking and generous people who were often involved in the community.
"If I got a sense of work ethic, I got it from them," he says.
After high school, Berglund earned a degree in English and a minor in physics before eventually earning a law degree from the University of Minnesota. He started work as a public defender in Minneapolis, which he describes as brutal work. He eventually started working as a lawyer for non-profits, but in the back of his mind, he still had that creative itch just waiting to be scratched.
"Life takes you in different directions," said Berglund.
In 2016, a six-month period of unemployment forced him to get serious. Berglund said he wanted to change completely the direction he was going.
"During that unemployment, I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life," said Berglund. "I tried woodworking, sold several pieces, but it just wasn't the fit for me. I was really trying to find my way."
Being a homebrewer hobbyist, distilling was an idea that kept coming back to him.
"It is one of those businesses where you are always learning, and that is what I really liked about it," he said.
With a stroke of luck, Berglund's in-laws offered him a piece of land in Alexandria that they used as an Airbnb to live on and start his distillery, which he happily accepted. He was then able to land a job as an attorney for Thompson Reuters. The new job and the move led Berglund from Minneapolis to Alexandria.
The property is on 77 acres near the shores of Lake Ida, bordering Lake Ida Cemetery, inspiring the name for the new distillery, Ida Graves.
Berglund says distilling is the creative process that really scratches the itch.
Today, Berglund is still an attorney by day and a distiller by night while balancing life as a husband and father of two - a responsibility that he doesn't mind as the business allows him to be close to his family.
He has plans in the works to continue adding to his distillery, adding a cocktail room and patio, as well as growing his roster of homemade organic spirits made from local ingredients.
"Always be curious, always be learning, and always know, you don't know anything," said Berglund. "Hard lessons are learned going into a situation thinking you know everything."